From the Archives: Wild Animal Actors

The year was 1936: truly the golden age of jungle animals in Hollywood.

Wild! Animal! Actors!
Wild! Animal! Actors!

Actually, we don’t know if that’s even true. But H.M and F.M. Christeson’s Wild Animal Actors lets us believe in a world where life was simpler, young ladies could match stripes and argyle patterns without fear, and the paparazzi followed Jalmers, the South American Puma, as he prowled around town shamelessly crashing fancy luncheons.

Jalmers, the South American Puma

(That girl on the left was so not having this.)

The featured animals in this book include an elephant, a tiger, a lion, two pumas, a rhino, and a penguin. Lest you think these profiles are all Hollywood puff pieces, Wild Animal Actors reveals that Jiggs the Chimpanzee (co-star to Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, and at least six different Tarzans) often stole jam jars and was prone to tantrums, just like a tiny Mel Gibson.

Oh, Jiggs.

The penguin thespian was known as “One-take-Oscar,” who “always does his bit perfectly the first time, but refuses to go through that same bit again that same day.”  This earned him a whopping $125 a week, or nearly 450 fish in 1930’s prices. (We did not make this up. It’s really in the book.)

Oscar the Penguin

Really it was all we could do to keep from scanning every last image in this book and sending them to one of our favorite weird photo blogs. But it’s Friday, and we have our summer books to get to, so we’ll leave you with this vision until Monday:

Anna May, the Elephant

Happy reading, and have a good weekend!

From the Archives: Wild Animal Actors